The New Normal

Patterns are beginning to develop.

Rod (one of only three people I’m allowing into my home these days) is coming over soon. Bless his heart, he has picked up my mail and a few groceries allowing me to stay in. I’ve propped the screen door open, so that’s one less thing for him to touch, and I’ve cleared the path from the front door to the dining room table. That’s where we’ll hang out.

He lives in an independent living senior complex, which is a major complication to having him in my home in that he brings along a large set of microorganisms from outside my shelter-in-place space. The major complication of having me go anywhere or be around others is that I have diabetes (type 2) and smoked for nearly 40 years of my life, which creates compromised breathing capacity.

And he and I are old; 80 and 72, respectively.

Being alone, which the introvert in me as well as my cat, Kali, loves, is something I seek out and celebrate. This alone time is what I have chosen over the years. However, being required to isolate is quite another thing. You know the feeling – tell me I can’t do something, and that’s all I want to do!

I know lots of people are struggling — lots of seniors who depend on the company of others, be they through small social clubs or larger religious affiliations. We don’t need crowds of people distracting us 24/7 but when days go by without human interaction, I start to get a little wiggy. Even before the pandemic, I consistently felt more than three days by myself affected my rational thinking. I’d get slightly out of sorts, and my usually tiny problems became magnified if I was left alone to lament and bear down on just about anything … or nothing.

I admit I made one mistake in the last two days – well, many more than that, but one I could have easily avoided:  I watched Contagion on Netflix and then watched the 1918 Influenza documentary on PBS. Geez, now I’m thinking of having Rod bring a second set of clothes over so he can disrobe on the porch before bringing all his buggies into my place. That’s a joke, of course, but, as I type this, I wonder if I’ll be laughing as much in two or three weeks when more cases of COVID-19 get closer.  

There’s a good chance there’ll be more than one New Normal blog post in the next few months, and I wish I knew what lay ahead for all of us. “I think I want to know,” she said hesitantly.

We seniors have had some stressful autumn-of-our-lives couple of years, and it can get super tiring and overwhelming when yet another tragic event gets piled on to all the rest. We’ll survive; I’m just not sure what that survival will look like. A few of us won’t survive, and I get that too.

In the meantime, our normal will shift from calm and optimistic to hypervigilant and concerned and back again because constant change is one of the defining aspects of our new normal.

How would you define your new normal?